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* * * * Great Balls of Fire * * * Good Vibrations * * Maybe Baby * Running on Empty : : PINK FLOYD--WHICH ONE?

September 20, 1987|DUNCAN STRAUSS

* * 1/2 "A MOMENTARY LAPSE OF REASON." Pink Floyd. Columbia.

'And, by the way, which one's Pink?" That line from the Floyd album "Wish You Were Here" could easily refer to the timely issue of the Pink Floyd personnel picture.

Chief composer Roger Waters has officially left the group, his solo career is in full swing and he objects to the remaining musicians using the "Pink Floyd" name. Keyboardist Rick Wright, who had departed the band a while back, has now returned to the Floyd fold. And guitarist David Gilmour, whose songwriting contributions had been minor during the Waters regime, is now in the artistic driver's seat, writing or co-writing all the material here.

So it's hardly surprising that this album more often resembles a Gilmour solo LP than a Pink Floyd record. Either way, it beats the heck out of that last Floyd disc, "The Final Cut." There's far less of the sometimes creepy verbal venom that characterizes Waters' songwriting and far more of Gilmour's fiery, piercing, almost metallic guitar lines.

For all the differences in employees and emphasis, many aspects of this package are true to Floyd form: "Lapse of Reason" is a 50-minute song cycle that encompasses airy allegory ("Learning to Fly"), yet another extended animal metaphor ("The Dogs of War") and a warning cry against accepting the status quo ("On the Turning Away"), amid other observations and examinations that don't exactly make for disposable pop.

Indeed, the lyrics are immersed in surreal sound tracks that range from shifting, billowy soundscapes to crunching, incendiary rock jams--often within the same song. For those still inclined, 20 years hence, to reap great meaning from this kind of spacey, cinematic stuff, the obvious answer must be: "By the way, this one's Pink and doing just fine, thank you."

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